I was cycling along, heading to meet a friend of mine at a bar one evening last week when I saw a group of people gathered at the side of the road. Curious as to what they were gathered for I looked up, only to see that the second floor of a restaurant was on fire. Now, just for background purposes this is a very busy street that is full of restaurants. To either side of the burning restaurant were other eateries, filled with customers. Like everybody else I stood for a while and watched the fire as it grew in strength. I kept looking at the people in the restaurants to either side and wondered why they didn’t seem concerned – if this kind of thing happened back home fire alarms would have gone off, people would have been evacuated to a safe distance and not a soul would be mad enough to remain in the building!
“Maybe they don’t even know there’s a fire.” I thought.
Right after thinking that, a customer emerged from one of the restaurants, took a look at the fire, weighed up his options and headed back in casually.

It’s at this point I realized – they knew there was a fire; they just had no intention of leaving without finishing their dinners!
As the fire grew in size, one of the windows shattered with the heat, covering the pavement in glittering shards of glass.
The restaurant on the right got everybody in the upper floor out, but continued chilling downstairs. The restaurant on the left carried on as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.

A couple of minutes later, the next window shattered, and the flames curled around the outside of the window frame, licking the outside walls.
You guessed it: still inside.

It was only when smoke started to enter the restaurants through the air vents that people decided “alright, maybe it’s time to get out.” Even then only about half of the customers left (the others clearly still had tasty treats to finish devouring).
I had to go at this point as I was already running late, so I cycled away only to be passed by three fire trucks and a police car.
At least somebody takes fires seriously here!


Note: Sorry about the shitty pictures – phone cameras don’t take great night shots…


About Greg

A simpleton from West Yorkshire, England living in Beijing. I try to document the oddities, frustrations and funnies that happen to me whilst out here. Hopefully you enjoy reading these little episodes as much as I enjoy writing them.
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7 Responses to Fire

  1. herschelian says:

    This post simultaneously makes me smile and gets me worried. The behaviour is so typically Chinese – ‘elf and safety wots that? Let’s use an oxi-acetylene torch to weld some metal together in the middle of a busy pavement during the rush hour, without gloves, goggles or any other protective clothing – and have a fag whilst we’re about it!

    • Greg says:

      Hahaha, I couldn’t have put it better myself! To be fair I think we could learn a thing or two though. My brother works in the trades and tells me that in the UK if you have to work at a height of over 1 meter you need to erect a full scaffold. Now THAT is just silly…

  2. Ha great post. Experiences like this you just dont get without travelling!

  3. maesprose says:

    That was a big fire to ignore. It amazes me that they just dined through it. I guess after Godzilla nothing seems all that bad.

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